COLUMN: 'Media should cover all conflicts in same manner' - Hassan Riaz

In My View with Hassan Riaz, community pharmacist and teacher at Madni Mosque, Halifax

By News Room
Thursday, 24th March 2022, 2:03 pm
Updated Thursday, 24th March 2022, 2:04 pm

The Western reporting fraternity needs to examine itself and take a look at what it’s values actually are.

Do we have a single set of standards which are adhered to in all times and places? Or are our standards different based on who we are, where we come from, what we believe in, and what the colour of our skin is.

We can’t have one set of values for those living inside of Europe and another set of values for those living outside of Europe.

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Recent reports indicate 630,000 people have died in the Yemen conflict. Photo by Getty Images

What’s happening in Ukraine is terrible. Invasion and occupation of a country so close to home is terrible. Innocent people, women and children, now displaced and made into refugees overnight is terrible. Livelihoods and families torn apart, lives lost.

At the same time, we must not forget that recent reports indicate 630,000 people have died in the Yemen conflict. These deaths have been either as a result of the relentless bombing from Yemen's neighbour Saudi Arabia, or through starvation from the resulting famine. The United Nations have called it the "greatest humanitarian catastrophe in the 21st Century".

The conflict has been ongoing for the last seven years. It is just as, if not more barbarous, as what Putin is doing in Ukraine. If the western media had given even a fraction of the attention to Yemen as it had to Ukraine, many innocent lives could have been saved. In our tradition, saving one life is akin to saving the whole of humanity, we should seek to save innocent lives wherever in the world they may be suffering.

Of course we should support the Ukrainian people against the illegal and barbaric invasion they are facing. But we need to be consistent in our foreign policy. If we are against the Russian attacks against Ukraine, we should also be equally against the Saudi Arabian government's acts against the Yemeni people.

Then we must consider the barbaric Israeli occupation of the West Bank. What about the rights of the Palestinian people? For decades the Palestinian people have had their homes taken away from them, their land stolen from them, and their loved ones taken away. The occupation is ongoing and equally deserves our attention.

Likewise we must remember the people of Kashmir, and the suffering they have faced for decades. My family traces its roots to this special place. It’s perhaps one of the most beautiful places on Earth, yet it is occupied and innocent people have endured hardship and struggle for generations.

When Tony Blair and George Bush invaded Iraq, killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people. 460,000 lives were lost as a result of the war. Did we see the same level of interrogation?

However, what we are seeing here unfortunately is a double standard. Racism is at the heart of this double standard. These people don’t have blue eyes, they are not white. They are not Europeans. Many news reporters have blatantly stated the importance levelled to European folk. All life is important.

People have been conditioned for a long time to see brown and black people as inferior. It’s well known, that this has been ongoing for hundreds of years. What we are seeing is the latest iteration of this.

Killing people is not okay. Anywhere.

We need to get our set of values aligned. The mainstream media needs to cover all conflicts in the same manner, without bias or racism.

I conclude writing this month's column from the city of Madinah al-Munawarrah, the resting place of the Prophet of Islam, peace be upon him. Over 1400 years ago, in his farewell sermon the Prophet of Islam, peace be upon him, said: “A white has no superiority over a black nor does a black have any superiority over a white except by piety and good action.”